A Living Tribute to Dr. Joel Robles Uribe, Ex-mayor of the City of San Blas

11. October 2010 | By Víctor Hugo Martínez Meza |

Translation by Lisa Drittenbas

The orginal article in Spanish is published at http://www.periodicopanoramanayarita.com.mx/politica/homenaje-en-vida-al-dr-joel-robles-uribe-expresidente-municipal-de-san-blas/

(Translator’s Note: ‘ejido’ is a type of land collective based on democratic communism in which land is worked and lived on collaboratively. This ancient system of land holding in Mexico pre-dates the Spaniards and was common during Aztec rule.)

A Living tribute to Former Mayor of San Blas The event was organized by the San Blas Society and coordinated by members of the Living Environment Network.

The Land Collective (ejido) Society La Chiltera, municipality of San Blas, Nayarit, asked to make a living tribute to Dr. Joel Robles Uribe, president of the municipality in the years 1964 to 1967, with the main purpose of thanking and honoring the brave land distribution made in the ejido, but especially to praise the nobility of his character.

This event comes strictly from the people of San Blas and despite the time that has passed, he has been one of the most beloved mayors and most memorable in the history of the town for his career and his human qualities.

This tribute will be a solemn event, transcendental, and cultural, which will be attended by the civil organization “United Farm Workers of America,” Vice Admiral Commander Naval Military Zone VI, Carlos Armando Martínez De Anda and marching band of the military corps, representatives of the City of San Blas and Living Environment Network.

The intention of the members of the ejido of La Chiltera is to honor the doctor on Saturday 16th October at about 2:00 pm in the municipality of La Chiltera (4 km from Navarrete) because 10,000 hectares of land that were expropriated which were owned by Chicles Adams making the descendants of the first owners now are ejidatarios quality.

According to the organization, there will be a welcome made by the town and then a meal, which will be a party open to the public.

For his part, Joel Robles Victor Villaseñor, son of Dr. Robles Uribe, said he is excited about the recognition that will be made to his father who is remembered as a great social activist, and thanked the people of La Chiltera for having organized this honor; he thanked all the ejidatarios, the municipality of San Blas, the General Union of Workers and Peasants of Mexico “Jacinto Lopez (UGOCEM) and Living Environment Network in joining such a well-deserved tribute.

It should be noted that Dr. Robles Uribe was winner of the Valentin Gomez Farias award for his research on epidemiology in the municipality of San Blas and for doing the great work of social health for its inhabitants.

Joel Robles Uribe


After more than 50 years of health service, Dr. Joel Robles still celebrates the Day of the doctor as if it were the first.

“It’s a great day, because of what we receive from the patients. It is a pride that we view with respect.”

Dr. Robles Uribe, head of the department of epidemiology at the Civil Hospital Fray Antonio Alcalde, identifies the evolution of medical developments.

“Before, the most respected people were the teacher, the priest and the doctor. They had great moral authority and were regarded with respect. I was lucky to have been a town doctor. The physician-patient relationship was humanist, with affection and communication. That has changed. Now doctors are health administrators. The relationship has been dehumanized. Before, the patient knew nothing; today they have more information and are less accepting of what you say. ”

Born June 13, 1932, he says that work in underserved communities is one of the experiences he remembers most. In Jalcocotan, Nayarit, a community in the mountains, in the sixties, diseases included diarrhea, colds, malaria and tuberculosis and he attended a lot of births. Then the teacher Joel received an unconscious patient, who he decided to feed for several days through a nasogastric tube.

“I indicated that they keep feeding him milk and eggs, but one day I heard they were giving him 14 eggs a day. He awoke: he was malnourished and had tuberculosis, but still saved,” he recalls with a laugh, adding to his story that “the family had already bought a coffin for when he died. The man, as he did not die, lent the coffin to other dead people and they returned it.” For Dr. Joel Robles, healing pain is the greatest satisfaction of physicians, but the appreciation is one of the joys that his profession has given him.


He returned decades later to Tepic Nayarit to serve as mayor of San Blas.

GUADALAJARA, JALISCO .- Educated at a boarding school for teaching children of workers, peasants and soldiers, founded during the government of General Lázaro Cárdenas del Río, a doctor from the University of Guadalajara (University of Guadalajara), Joel Robles Uribe, came back decades later to his land, Tepic Nayarit, to serve as mayor of San Blas.

However, that management had developed a “whole” was not enough. At the end of his administration in 1966, the Mexican Army, under the baton of Gustavo Díaz Ordaz’s presidency, jailed him for acts of “social dissolution” after taking ten thousand hectares, owned by a foreign company to refer them to farm work.
At that time, Joel Robles Uribe broke with the official party and became active in leftist movements settled in western Mexico, to seek, in 1977, the governor of Jalisco, against Flavio Romero de Velasco.

Truly convinced that socialist doctrines can be run by the institutional route, Dr. Joel Robles Uribe is one of the characters with greatest resonance in the rebellious limits of Jalisco.

– Where are you from, why commune with the left?

“I’m from Tepic. I was born in 1932. My father was a businessman, he used to said “changarrero” and had been a peasant leader. Actually I started in this as a child, in a house he took me every Monday, at their meetings in the ejidos. They were Zapatista orientation meetings. I remember that such meetings were illegal. We had to go through the night, over terrible roads, and gaps, low rainfall.

I heard what he said and he pushed me until I spoke; I trained there to be a speaker.

But really all my training was in this sense. I completed secondary school in a boarding school for children of workers and soldiers. There were some schools formed within the larger educational project of Lazaro Cardenas, to educate the children of workers without resources, with the idea that that’s where at any given moment the future political leaders would come from.”

— Apparently it worked … you are a political leader.
“Maybe yes,” he smiles. “Of those of us who came out of there, many came to occupy important political positions, such as Julian Gascon Mercado, who was governor of Nayarit, Samuel Ocaña Garcia, governor of Sonora. Others were mayors, deputies and senators.”

– How was life in these schools?

“It awoke much love for the Motherland. We got up at six o’clock, we were in a neighborhood with a large courtyard where then we did the honors to the flag. But we not only sang the National Anthem, but also that of the Agrarian and the Socialist International. We had full-time teachers of very good quality that lived with us forever. We had an excellent dining hall and infirmary. And a great closeness of teachers in our training.

I never could have finished my education, had not been through public institutions which were consolidated after the Mexican Revolution.”

– What does medicine have to do with politics?

“Well, Che was a doctor,” he smiles, “Seriously, I was always called by the social application of medicine. I trained as a teacher in public health, which is involved in social issues. Anyway, I left Nayarit to study prep school and the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Guadalajara (UdeG). Then I participated with the leftist groups of the time.

Back then the Socialist Students’ Front of the West (FESO) still existed. After high school, I entered the School of Medicine at University of Guadalajara, which is in Hospital and Bethlehem, there I joined the student movement and was a member of the State Committee of the Students Federation of Guadalajara (FEG), headed by comrade José Guadalupe Zuno Hernández.

But we must understand that the FEG at that time was very different from the FEG that formed or deteriorated in the seventies here, he lost his temper, which was gangster-type. With Pepe Zuno, and back with Carlos Ramirez, the struggle for socialism was real, and we students accepted it without restrictions.”

– What events of the student political struggle of the time come to your mind?

“The clashes with the Universidad Autonoma of Guadalajara (UAG), which began to infiltrate into higher education, affected me. There was talk of the famous Tecos.

We were fighting in Munguia and Lopez Cotilla and where they and we were fighting with stones. They committed acts of vandalism against the busts of the founders of our socialist university. We, we did break up a procession commemorating Anacleto Flores, which for us was not a martyr, but a Cristero who contributed to the death of many teachers. We were natural enemies.”

– And not anymore?

“Times have changed, it seems that ideology has softened a bit, at least in this area.”

– How did you go from a general practitioner to mayor of San Blas?

“At the end of my career I did a residency in surgery at the Hospital Civil; I was a skilled surgeon. They said I had tremendous, warm hands. I was operating, if possible, night and day. And I was with a teacher named Adolfo Flores Ortega, who had just come from the United States; they did not let him go into the Civil Hospital because they didn’t give him space. There were others who competed with him, but allowed him to be there. He admitted patients and I helped him. He formed a place where we did experiments on dogs, we collected the dogs and they did open heart chest surgeries.”

– It sounds macabre …

“They were highly specialized operations. The fact is that when residency was almost finished, I was told about Jalcocotán, a village near Tepic; it truly could not be reached, only by a brechita. A very famous healer, a military nurse, had a large clientele and gave to build a hospital, and when it was going to be set in motion they demanded there would be a responsible physician, and he invited me and I went to jump start the small hospital. And then I became famous in the region and on the weekends I was going to other villages in the municipality of San Blas.

It turns out that Dr. Julian Gascon, candidate for governor in 1964 undertook to look for partners who were at boarding school for children of workers. We located each other and were invited to join their campaign, there came the proposal that I would be a candidate for mayor of San Blas, and I raced for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). I won overwhelmingly, of course … because I was known professionally, but also because it was the official party, the PRI.”

– How was the government silenced?

“Perhaps I was more excited. San Blas was a very poor place; it had six policemen and a little more than a thousand inhabitants. There were times when no money entered the coffers of the municipal treasury. I didn’t charge (patients) for three years and I sustained myself with the income from a pharmacy that I left in Jalcocotan. That really was the birth of my concern for participation in agrarian struggles.
But curiously, despite my inclination to the left, I got along very well with the priests. There was a priest named Juan Guardado. He, when I had just been an official candidate and won, he invited me to a meal. All the priests of the municipality of San Blas and Santiago gathered, and he said that so far all the mayors had joined him. I was the exception and they offered me their friendship. Then I got involved with people of the Communist Party, that was illegal, and that’s how I evolved ideologically.”

– Why did they imprison you?

“At that time, municipalities, because of a revolutionary decree made years before by General Lázaro Cárdenas, we were forced to give the first lands that were allocated, because they were idle. I was going to go see them with the liquidator, and for one to three years we gave them to people to work it. To be constituted into villages, there was a national body through which the formation of villages was registered. I supported the formation of communities, Heroic Battalion of San Blas and Chiltera.

The case is that there had been a large estate of over ten thousand hectares of idle land which Adams Gum was claimed to have. They had bought it before World War II because there was a fruit called Chiltan, which was a strategic resource because the Yankees were in need of tires. They bought it, they enclosed it, occasionally there were helicopters and airplanes watering the Chiltan seeds, (and in this way) they could confirm that they were idle and I handed (the land) over.

I had a terrible reaction from Adams Gum. I complied with the law, but they made an investigation against me in the federal prosecutor’s agency. Leaving my term in ‘66, the army burned the citizen’s houses we had made. It was the president of the country, Diaz Ordaz. We started doing rallies in the towns against the Army because they repressed and put out the peasants. They put me in jail for social dissolution, and I went free because they couldn’t accuse me, I had followed the law. Ironically, even though I was accused of being a communist, those who defended me were the priests of Tepic, probably under the influence of father Guardado.”

– How did you became a candidate for governor of Jalisco?

“After I joined the Mexican Institute of Social Secruity (IMSS) here in Guadalajara. I held management positions at several clinics and became a good doctor. I was sent as the director of Clinic Three, which was then the largest in the country. We arrived in the morning and all of us started to sweep the clinic, the people did too, they took care of their health center.

We started to do health promoters courses, we took out the social service providers to do community work. Once, there was a group of youths who set out to make a play about Che, the fact is that all the people who were consulting mutinied after seeing the play and the next day the officer scolded me, told me that they were going to run me off but he sent me to do a master’s in public health.

I was a clinical epidemiologist for about 25 years at Clinic Two, and founded a union movement called “The Barefoot Eagle”, which had an impact in 17 states. The movement was so important that we knocked down a national leader of the IMSS union.

Then I was a member of the Communist Party (PC), we were painting at night and the police chased us. I was the first candidate for governor of Jalisco by leftist forces. It was an organization called Democratic Unity, composed of communists, peasants, the Socialist Party, and we started with no resources, we went to many places, we rallied, and fought against Flavio Romero de Velasco, who arrived in San Blas because he was PRI, and he said he had respect for me and it was a pleasure to be his contender. I have maintained friendship with him. As governor on one occasion he was in his car, and stood to greet me.”

– What is missing from the current insurgencies in Jalisco?
“For many years it was said that Jalisco was the chicken of the country, I do not think so, and there have been significant movements. People linked to the university and the FEG of José Guadalupe Zuno, as well as trade union movements. Currently I’m working on a biography of prestigious physicians who were part of the communist movement.

But we have had success against the placazo, and managed to return the limosnazo, not because we are against churches are built. I am a Catholic, I go to church occasionally. Maybe I’m Marxist Guadalupe,” he smiles.
“The fact is that there are priorities in health, education, that are not addressed, or the monstrous pollution in the Rio Santiago, it is really shameful. There is unity and consciousness and I think the government knows it and has been detected, but to suppress it.”

– Speaking of repression, how did you live the dirty war?

“I did not participate in the guerrilla, but I protected the guerrillas at home, like Ricardo Rodriguez Moreno, and “El Perico”, not the mafia, but one that was brought from Nayarit almost dying. He was detained in the hospital, he told me to help him escape, he pretended to be too sick to do fitness and escape, someone slipped him a gun, and with it, once they opened the gate of the Civil detainees, pulled gun, took out the pistol, killed the policeman, crossed the park opposite the hospital, attacked a van and left. In the afternoon we all knew that was the story of eight columns the next day.”

– Do you believe in the guerrilla?
“I respect these forms of struggle, but I disagree with them. I believe more in multi-class movements, for all, that is the solution, not weapons. In many places the guerrillas have been defeated. It is a bit of a romantic option, but I do not agree.

Just so you know, anyway that was many years ago, if there is crime it was prescribed. But “the parrot”, that night was at my house, and I had to hide him for about four days. Later, he would be killed in Tijuana in an encounter with the Army.”